Matilda and Her Visitor

When Jane Maria CORTIS married  45 year-old John Would PARKER in 1876 she still had fifteen years or so in which she might have borne his children. There is a third reason why none appeared. If you look at the two photographs of John posted a couple of days ago he doesn’t appear to be full of the joys. He had cause.

Matilda was his little sister, appearing when he was three years old. They lived on the family farm together for 25 years before she married George ROSE, who also farmed in Ludborough. She gave birth to three children in three years, Matilda Alice (1859), George Byron (1860) and John William (about August 1861).

Shortly after John William’s birth, Matilda Alice caught an infection caused by the Corynebacterium diphtheriae and she died in the middle of November. Diphtheria is a respiratory illness transmitted by droplets. Neither of her brothers contracted the disease. Her father did, and he died a couple of weeks after his daughter.

George Byron died two months before his third birthday. It is not clear if widow Matilda took her surviving boy with her when she crossed the Humber to Hull. Her state of mind may have been such that her mother and older siblings considered her unfit to look after him. In September 1864 she married John Henry LEE , a timber merchant three years her junior. The marriage was ended within a year – by divine intervention.

Had she not been taken, Matilda would have had to nurse her husband through a lingering illness until his death in January 1867, aged 31.

So much misery. But, back in Ludborough, Sarah Parker née WOULD, her eldest daughter Sarah Elizabeth, and yet to be married John Would Parker, gave infant John William Rose a home. The boy was at Manor House Farm in 1871 but when John married and brought Jane Maria home, he moved with Sarah Elizabeth to another house in the village. Sarah, a 57 year-old spinster in 1881, would surely have received help from her mother and brother in guiding the the young man towards adulthood, and perhaps Jane was an influence on him too. Whoever was responsible for his upbringing, they did a good job. He was an undergraduate at Cambridge University in 1881 and later worked as a solicitor for a number of years in London and Brentford. It appears he wasn’t a great success in his chosen profession. The 1911 census finds him at 63 Windsor Road, Ealing, working as a Merchant’s Clerk (in Condensed Milk and Starch). With him are wife Caroline Matilda and their son Wilfrid. (A second child had died in infancy.)

I have made some connections on FamilySearch. You can find John William on the Shared Tree and make your way back to John Would and Jane Maria. I think, maybe, that Jane’s husband had been so traumatized by Matilda’s experiences that he chose to remain childless. (He was executor of brother in law George’s will.) We can only guess what Jane thought of all this but it is understandable that, as a widow getting on in years, she traveled to the other side of the world to be with what was left of her birth family.

When I did some work on the Cortis family a few years ago, I thought John Would had gone to Australia with Jane and suggested as much in a note on the Shared Tree. I should have paid closer attention to the newspaper notice of her death in a Sydney newspaper.

Found at Trove

PARKER, John Wold (sic), Age at Death (in years): 63. GRO Reference: 1893 D Quarter in LOUTH Volume 07A Page 429.GRO Index Deaths

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The Missing Twins

I mentioned on Tuesday that Elizabeth CORTIS 2 [K2BK-F63] had a full complement of siblings on the FamilySearch Shared Tree. That ten children at least were born to master mariner and hotel keeper Richard and Jane nee SMITHSON is confirmed in a brief newspaper notice.

I had forgotten about the twins.

The youngest Cortis child on the Shared Tree as I write this post is Thomas Thackrah. He was about 18 months old when his mother died.

Jane would have given birth to the twins towards the end of April. A simple search for christenings brought nothing so I looked through the Holy Trinity register from late April to September. Still nothing. I found them in the Holy Trinity Burials registers at Find My Past.

I don’t know who entered the world first but Ann departed after nine weeks in the vale of tears. Harriet stayed for seven months.

(Harriet’s entry is at the bottom of the register page – I have added the header in Photoshop, so this is not a facsimile of the original document.)

Betsey still had a sister and seven brothers. Jane was the only one of Richard’s children enumerated with him at The Minerva Hotel in 1851. She was 25 years-old and single but married Philip HORSLEY, a Doncaster farmer, three weeks later. I couldn’t find records of children, their whereabouts at subsequent censuses or records of their deaths. It is an easy assumption to make that they emigrated – either blazing a trail to North America or following the Cortis brothers Richard John, Joseph, Samuel Smithson, John Charles and Thomas Thackrah to New York City and destinations beyond. Joseph gave his life for the Union but the others may all have married and made it to the Twentieth Century. Betsey’s eldest brother William Smithson, and those of his children who reached adulthood, “went the other way” to Australia. More about the adventurers another day.

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